5 June 2015

The inaugural issue of “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” was published in April 1988 – over a year before the first edition of the ABC TV Media Watch program went to air. Since November 1997 “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” has been published as part of The Sydney Institute Quarterly. In 2009 Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog blog commenced publication.


“On Sunday before Insiders…I was giving you a rich and full account of what a weird shit I think you are…”

David Marr to Gerard Henderson, 1 June 2015

In fact, Mr Marr’s “rich and full account” was delivered as he engaged in angry pogo-stick style jumps inside the Insiders’ Green Room. How weird can you get? Re which see MWD’s hugely popular “Correspondence” section.



    What an insightful piece in today’s Age and Sydney Morning Herald by Mark Kenny – Fairfax Media’s chief political correspondent. This is how Kenny’s column commenced:

    If this government were led by a woman, you might call it “chaotic”, remarked one onlooker dryly. And that was before the show descended into poisonous suspicion in the wake of the most detailed leaks from a cabinet meeting anyone can remember.

    Brilliant, don’t you think? Could there be a more authoritative source to lead a column than with “one onlooker” who talks “dryly”. The column proceeded apace. Fairfax Media’s chief political correspondent revealed that he had spoken to “some within the party room” and “one Liberal”. Wow. However, Mr Kenny did not say how it came to pass that Peter Hartcher’s detailed account of the Cabinet leak on national security ran in Fairfax Media’s Sydney Morning Herald last Saturday but not in Fairfax Media’s The Age.

    And there was the issue as to who might have leaked details of Cabinet discussions concerning the citizenship of some terrorists. According to Mark Kenny, the leak was done by ministers who support the Prime Minister. Or possibly by “one of a number of ministers who blocked the PM”. Or possibly by “other potential culprits”. That’s pretty clear then. How authoritative can you get?


    Meanwhile, over at the Australian Financial Review, another columnist was at her very best – or worst – in the print version of her eye-rolling style as seen on the ABC 1 Insiders program from time to time. The reference is to Laura Tingle’s “Canberra observed” column this morning.

    La Tingle referred to “the unhinged nature of the rhetoric in which our Prime Minister now engages”. The AFR’s political editor concluded: “Unfortunately, Tony Abbott seems to have perfected the art of looking ridiculous whether or not he is doing U-turns or not”. [Gee, I just loved the usage of one “or not” followed immediately by another “or not”. – Ed]

    Which reminds Nancy’s (male) co-owner that Laura Tingle tends to be abusive of Tony Abbott whether or not she is deliberately being abusive or not. Is such journalistic sludge understandable? Or not?

    Can you bear it graphic


    What a stunning tweet by George Megalogenis, formerly of The Australian and now a much beloved documentary maker for the ABC. On Friday night, after Swans Australian Football League star Adam Goodes had caused controversy by performing an aggressive Aboriginal war-dance at Carlton supporters after he had kicked a goal for the Swans at the Sydney Cricket Ground, George M. sent out the following tweet on 29 May 2015:

    And then later on George Megalogenis tweeted:

    When Nancy’s (male) co-owner attended VFL/AFL matches, any player who – after kicking a goal – made aggressive gestures at the supporters of the opposition team would have been booed whether indigenous or not. Especially if, like Goodes, the player was regarded as a stager for free kicks.

    But, according to Megalogenis, it was all Tony Abbott’s fault. This despite the fact that there is no record of Michael Long, the Indigenous Essendon star, having deliberately provoked the barrackers of rival teams at the Bombers’ home ground in 1995 or any other year. Can you bear it?

    [Er, no. Not really. I note that George has as yet to find time to send out a tweet correcting the howler he made during his interview with the late Malcolm Fraser which was run on ABC1 on 22 March 2015 (See MWD Issue 263). There Mr Fraser alleged – and Mr Megalogenis readily agreed – that it was (then) US ambassador Marshall Green who forwarded a cable to Washington in November 1975 predicting that Fraser would be unsuccessful in his attempt to block supply and bring down the Whitlam Labor government.

    If George M. had done a fact-check, he would have quickly realised that Fraser was hopelessly wrong – since Marshall Green left his post in Canberra in July 1975. Also he might have read the US Embassy cable which was signed Percival – not Green. But, since George M became a fan of Fraser during the latter’s leftist period, the false allegation went into the program. Since the ABC’s Fact Check Unit invariably ignores the ABC’s own factual errors, this howler is unlikely to be corrected – Ed]


    While on the topic of leftist tweets, consider the case of one-time journalist and current University of Technology Sydney academic Wendy Bacon. Last Monday Ms Bacon sent out this tweet – following a statement from Cardinal George Pell’s office that he is seeking legal advice concerning last Sunday’s 60 Minutes program – which re-cycled old allegations against him which he had previously rebutted:

    So, according to Wendy Bacon, Pell’s decision to seek legal advice is yet another example of the use of the “weapon of choice for bullies wanting to silence their enemies”. If this is true, then Bacon must regard her recently departed left-wing comrades as “bullies” – since all of them took successful defamation writs against media outlets. Step forward former Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam, former leftist hero Jim Cairns and former Labor luvvie Tom Uren.

    According to Bacon’s logic, this Labor trio were all “bullies” who wanted “to silence their enemies”. But it’s unlikely that the leftist Bacon will put this thesis to her UTS classes anytime soon – since the trio are all Labor Saints. Can you bear it?


    And then there was the taxpayer funded public broadcaster’s Radio National Breakfast tweet following Fran Kelly’s interview with Francis Sullivan, the chief executive officer of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council which was set up by the Australian Catholic Hierarchy:

    So there you have it. Most students of the Catholic Church would have thought that the Pope and cardinals in the Vatican spoke for the Catholic Church. However, according to RN Breakfast, a certain Mr Sullivan in the Antipodes speaks for the “Catholic Church” – in an Australian accent, of course. Can you bear it?


    While on the issue of RN Breakfast, Fran (“I’m an activist”) Kelly and all that – it is worth considering the contrasting interviewing styles evident on the program.

    On Monday, Kelly interviewed – if “interview” is the correct word – Lyle Shelton, managing director of the conservative Christian Lobby. Mr Shelton is a strong opponent of what is called same-sex marriage and Ms Kelly is a strong supporter of changing the traditional definition of marriage from a union between a man and a woman to something else.

    Fran Kelly constantly interrupted Lyle Shelton, challenged his views and ended up terminating the interview when her guest said something with which she disagreed. [Oh dear – perhaps the RN National presenter should enrol in Nancy’s Courtesy Classes with the aim of graduating with an AC gong – as in “Always Courteous”. Just a thought – Ed]

    Soon after, Fran Kelly interviewed Francis Sullivan of the Catholic Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Commission (TJHC), who spent a considerable part of the interview criticising the socially conservative George Pell. Needless to say, on this occasion Ms Kelly was completely courteous – refraining from challenging Sullivan’s comments and not interrupting. Moreover, the Kelly/Sullivan interview ended in a most courteous manner. Can you bear it?

    your taxes at work a continuing saga


    Meanwhile thanks to The Australian’s “Cut & Paste” section yesterday for the tip that John Daley and the team at the Grattan Institute in Melbourne have put out the begging bowl. On Tuesday, the Grattan Institute wrote to potential donors as follows:

    Good public policy work makes a difference. But it isn’t cheap. To continue and expand our work and expertise, we need the support of friends, philanthropists and the private sector.

    Fair enough, too. After all, the Melbourne based Grattan Institute was founded with a $30 million taxpayer funded hand-out by the Commonwealth and State governments in 2008. Both the Gillard (Commonwealth) and Brumby (Victorian) governments kicked in a lousy $15 million each. The taxpayer subsidised Melbourne University provided premises and in-kind support and some companies also kicked in contributions.

    The intention was to build up a $50 million financial reserve – most of which comprised taxpayer funded handouts.

    But now Dr Daley (for a doctor he is) and his colleagues have got out the begging bowl looking for lotsa most cash – this time from friends, philanthropists and the private sector. Just as well the Grattan Institute does not have to pay rent.

    Meanwhile stay tuned for the Grattan Institute’s next do-what-I-say-not-what-I-do paper titled Why Government Discretionary Spending Should Be Wound Back: Except When The Discretion Involves Taxpayer Funded Handouts to the Grattan Institute. Soon to be handed out for free at a taxpayer subsidised university next year.


    Meanwhile MWD still feels Andrew Jaspan’s pain. The hopeless former editor of The Age [Do you mean the former, hopeless editor of The Age? – Ed] and current editor-in-chief of The Conversation whinged recently when the Commonwealth Government withdrew its $1 million annual subsidy for his on-line handout The Conversation – which publishes the work of academics. Plus the thought of former journalist Michelle Grattan.

    Fair enough. After all, the Melbourne-based The Conversation had only trousered a lousy $7 million over seven years per courtesy of the taxpayer. Mr Jaspan, apparently, wanted at least three more years of such largesse. This in addition to the handouts The Conversation gets from the taxpayer subsidised university sector. And Mr Jaspan is whinging to the taxpayer funded public broadcaster about how he has been denied justice by the Abbott government.

    [Perhaps Andrew (“Can I Have Another Handout?”) Jaspan should try selling his product on the market instead of dumping it for free. Just a thought – Ed]

    Legacy Issues


    Graham Jeffs, an avid Perth based MWD reader who happens to be a neurosurgeon, has stepped forward with an offer to double the existing offer to Robert Manne for him to provide evidence. Wow. But first (as the saying goes) – the story so far.

    As avid MWD readers will be aware, Robert Manne claimed in 2011 that Gerard Henderson demanded that The Age dismiss Manne as a columnist in 1993. Or maybe it was 1995. Your man Manne is not too sure about this – having cited both dates on different occasions.

    Professor Manne says that the 1993 (or perhaps 1995) demand was made in a “dossier” on Manne which Henderson faxed to The Age’s opinion page editor Paul Austin. So Mr Austin (allegedly) has the original. Manne says that Henderson sent a copy of the “dossier” to Morag Fraser who is one of Manne’s besties. It is not at all clear why Hendo would send a copy of so sensitive a document to one of Manne’s friends – but the allegation is part of Manne’s story. So Ms Fraser (allegedly) has another copy of the “dossier”. And Manne says that Austin gave him a copy of the “dossier”. So Mr Manne (allegedly) has a third copy of the “dossier”. By the way, Mr Manne changed his original assertion that the “dossier” was sent to Paul Austin in 1993 to 1995 since it was brought to his attention that Mr Austin was not working at The Age in 1993. How about that? As Robert Manne’s website proudly proclaims, the learned professor was twice voted Australia’s leading intellectual. [Perhaps intellectuals are not expected to have reliable memories – Ed]

    Last week Hendo offered to hand over $8000 (previously $7000) to Robert Manne – for a designated asylum seeker charity of his choice – if the emeritus professor can produce the “dossier” (allegedly) written by Gerard Henderson to Paul Austin demanding that Manne be sacked as an Age columnist. In 1993 or perhaps 1995 or whatever.

    And now Dr Jeffs has come up with an $8000 offer of his own – which can be used for an asylum seeker cause of your man Manne’s choice – or for a good holiday. Here’s the email which arrived last Friday, containing the following sentence:

    Please note that in the interests of motivating Dr Manne, our practice is willing to match your offer dollar for dollar, also going to the asylum seeker charity of his choice, or restful holiday if he chooses.

    Graham Jeffs

    Perth Neurosurgery


    How wonderful. Under this combined Hendo/Jeffs offer, Emeritus Professor Manne can give $8000 to an asylum seeker charity of his choice AND take himself and Mrs Manne on a holiday to, say, New Zealand. Or he could travel to the United States for, say, memory restitution treatment. All Robert Manne has to do is to provide evidence for his assertion first made four years ago.

    If Professor Manne’s memory is accurate this should be an easy task. After all, Robert Manne (allegedly) has a copy of the alleged “dossier” and so (allegedly) does Paul Austin and so (allegedly) does Morag Fraser. They could all get together at The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra and exchange documents while enjoying a Chai Latte. Or something like that.

    Robert Manne’s failure to produce the document after four years – even with the inducement of a generous offer – provides further evidence that he has an appalling memory. You know, the kind of “memory” you have when you “remember” events which never occurred. Just like the time when Robert Manne remembered marching under a “Neither Washington Nor Hanoi” banner in the 1970 Vietnam Moratorium march in Melbourne – a banner which his mate Rai Gaita has acknowledged they never got near. It was a kind of virtual banner for an academic with a vivid imagination.

    We’ll keep you posted about this HUGE $16,000 offer. But don’t hold your breath. No such “dossier” was ever written – and Robert Manne is just too embarrassed to withdraw his false and unprofessional allegation.

    five paws graphic


    Thanks to the avid MWD reader in Melbourne who tipped off Hendo to the fact that leftist PR operative Dee Madigan would be joining The Guardian Australia’s David (“All Journalists Must Be Leftists”) Marr on ABC Radio’s Drive with Rafael Epstein last Friday.

    Nancy’s (male) co-owner expected that this would be standard ABC fare where everyone agrees with everyone else in a leftist kind of way. But it did not turn out that way – following a call to the program from Barbara in Clunes who raised the issue of child sexual abuse among Catholic clergy in the Ballarat diocese. This followed the recent hearings of the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Ballarat. Specific reference was made to the former priest and jailed paedophile Gerald Ridsdale.

    After Barbara from Clunes declared that “David Marr has written an excellent book on George Pell which I haven’t read yet”, an agitated Mr Marr got into the discussion. Needless to say, Marr bagged Cardinal George Pell – as did Dee Madigan. Just when Hendo was expecting another entry in MWD’s hugely popular “Maurice Newman Segment” documenting ABC debates where everyone agrees with everyone else in a leftist kind of way – Rafael Epstein threw the switch to known facts. Really.

    Let’s go to the transcript where Dee Madigan made an unsourced allegation that Pell, when a priest in the Ballarat diocese in 1982 – had been present in a room when Bishop Ronald Mulkearns (allegedly) said that Ridsdale had to be moved into another parish in the Ballarat diocese because he was sexually abusing children.

    Dee Madigan: I think what has also come out which is extraordinary, is that Pell was at that meeting where they discussed moving Ridsdale from Mortlake. And it was common knowledge, and Ridsdale admitted that everyone knew what his problems were. It’s absolutely –

    Rafael Epstein: [Interjecting] It’s blurred though isn’t it because the claim is that the common knowledge was about his [Ridsdale’s] homosexuality not about his paedophilia.

    [All three talk over each other]

    Dee Madigan: No, no, no.

    David Marr: No

    Rafael Epstein: No, you don’t think?

    Dee Madigan: No, his [Ridsdale’s] evidence seems to imply that –

    David Marr: He’s [Ridsdale’s] not a homosexual. Homosexuals have sex with each other, paedophiles have sex with children.

    Dee Madigan: It is absolutely implausible that Pell was at that meeting about why this priest should be moved and yet had no knowledge of his [Ridsdale’s] crimes. It does not compute.

    David Marr: He was, this is, Pell has always said –

    Rafael Epstein: I wouldn’t make that judgement for myself. How do you know that much about that meeting?

    David Marr: I will. Pell has always said that he first discovered, first got a glimmering of Ridsdale’s crimes in the early 1990s. The meeting that he’s referring to happened in 1982. And it was a meeting that determined that Ridsdale – this time not moved from one parish to another – but out of the diocese of Ballarat, out of parish work entirely, to an office job in Sydney at the Catholic Information Centre, right? And Pell is claiming that he sat there in that meeting, never knew the reasons for this absolutely remarkable –

    Rafael Epstein: There was a series of meetings. Isn’t his [Pell’s] claim that he came in at the end of a series of meetings?

    David Marr: There had been many meetings because this man [Ridsdale] had been moved again and again and again. Now, George Pell may be able to convince the Royal Commission that he sat there, as a senior priest – as an important figure really, in the Ballarat diocese. Sat in on this extraordinary decision about this priest being moved again, and didn’t know and didn’t ask and wasn’t curious and didn’t find out.

    Rafael Epstein: So isn’t the crucial question – and I can see where you’re both very strongly coming from – however, things aren’t going to change. What you say is still just an opinion. Until the Royal Commission says something far more conclusive, no?

    David Marr: Rafael, I’m just an ordinary human being. I look at those facts and say it is up to Pell to convince me that somehow or another he was part of that process and didn’t know why it was happening.

    Rafael Epstein: But that’s guilty until proven innocent, isn’t it?

    David Marr: I’m not charging him with a crime. It’s just, believability. He has now said he will make himself available to be cross-examined in person. And obviously if he wants to convince people of the truth of his view, he’s going to have to do that in person. And you know, welcome it. There may be an explanation, but I’m just –

    It so happened that the non-Catholic Epstein was correct. There is no evidence that paedophilia was discussed at the 1982 meeting to which Marr and Madigan referred but male homosexuality was discussed. Mr Epstein was also correct in identifying that both Marr and Madigan were coming on very strongly in their criticism of Pell without having any evidence to support their hunches.

    Moreover, Fr Eric Bryant, who was present at the 1982 meeting in Ballarat, has said that concern was expressed about Ridsdale’s homosexuality. These are the relevant extracts from the Herald-Sun on Thursday 28 May 2015 – the day before Marr and Madigan sounded off on ABC Radio 774 – as reported by Shannon Deery. It seems that neither Marr nor Madigan were aware of the Herald Sun article:

    A whistleblower priest has revealed serial paedophile Gerald Ridsdale’s sexual behaviour was raised at a high-level church meeting in 1982. Father Eric Bryant told the Herald Sun that concerns over Ridsdale’s “committing homosexual acts” were explicitly discussed in the meeting — which was attended by now Cardinal George Pell — at which it was decided to shift Ridsdale from the parish of Mortlake. The revelation came as Ridsdale on Wednesday broke his silence over his crimes to the royal commission….

    Detailing the meeting of seven priests, Fr Bryant said Ballarat bishop Ronald Mulkearns had opened it by saying: “We’ve got a problem with homosexuality in the diocese.”

    The bishop said Gerald Ridsdale has been reported committing homosexual acts. “I thought, ‘What have I got myself into?’,” Fr Bryant said.

    Fr Bryant said he could not recall any mention in the meeting of the ages of the people who were involved. “There was no mention of children,” he said.

    Now a parish priest at Stawell, Fr Bryant said that he remembered the meeting well as it was his first. He also said Fr Pell had been the second-most junior priest there. “George was just a simple priest like me back in those days,” he said.

    According to the evidence, Rafael Epstein was correct and David Marr and Dee Madigan were wrong. Marr was incorrect in asserting that Pell was a “senior priest” in Ballarat in 1982. And Ridsdale’s homosexuality (but not his paedophilia) was discussed at the 1982 meeting, according to the available evidence.

    Rafael Epstein: Five Paws

    [How about this. I note that you have been in correspondence with David (“All Journalists Must Be Leftists”) Marr and Dee Madigan in recent times. This should make the “Correspondence” section today of interest to MWD’s hundreds of thousands of avid readers. Or at least some of this lot. – Ed]

    A Linda Mottram Moment


    MWD has a number of our hugely popular “A Linda Mottram Moment” episodes ready to go. But first, as the saying goes, here’s one from yesterday.

    During a discussion with Crikey’s Bernard Keane on ABC Radio 702 “Mornings with Linda Mottram” yesterday, the following exchange took place:

    Linda Mottram: And speaking of the war on terror, of course, there’s also a bit of a march towards a greater involvement in Iraq. We’ve seen Peter Jennings, the other –

    Bernard Keane: Jim Molan?

    Linda Mottram: Jim Molan, yeah, who sort of ran the Iraq War for a period from the Australian side. And [Jennings and Molan are] really out there saying, “Look, ISIS is just so problematic now, we’ve got to throw more bodies at it essentially and loosen the terms of engagement”. Which means, basically, bomb more civilian casualties.

    So there you have it. According to the 702 presenter, engaging the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, on the field of battle in Iraq amounts to bombing civilians. No more, no less, apparently.

    Verily, a Linda Mottram Moment.


    The reality of the leftist Linda Mottram discussing national politics with her hand-picked bestie – the leftist Bernard Keane from the leftist Crikey reminded Nancy’s (male) co-owner that it would be a good time to wind-up the Mark Scott clock again.

    This (highly popular) segment is dedicated to holding ABC managing director Mark Scott to account for his promise – made on 16 October 2006 – that, under his watch, there would be a “further diversity of voices” on the ABC.

    Number of weeks since Nice Mr Scott promised greater diversity on the ABC – Total: 450 weeks

    Number of conservative presenters/producers/paid regular commentators/editors on prominent ABC Radio/ABC TV/ABC Online outlets – Total: Absolutely Zip

    When it comes to the issue of attempting to ensure some political balance at the ABC on Mr Scott’s watch, it’s already 5 minutes past midnight.

    clockface mwd mark scott



    MWD is a huge supporter of the failed former Labor leader’s column in the Australian Financial Review. After all, it’s difficult for a modern man to live on a taxpayer funded superannuation hand-out of a mere $75,000 per year (fully indexed). [Are you sure it’s not more than this? – Ed].

    Especially since the Lair of Liverpool used to be opposed to politicians receiving fully indexed superannuation hand-outs well above what would be achievable in the market place. Not only does the Lair of Liverpool have to bank the largesse every month, he has to assuage his conscience in the process. All for the cause of keeping food on the table – to use the cliché.

    In any event, this is what your man Latham had to say in the AFR yesterday about the revelations, released so far, in Sarah Ferguson’s three-part documentary The Killing Fields, which commences on ABC1 next Tuesday.

    When I left federal Parliament in 2005, Julia Gillard had a carefully considered opinion of Kevin Rudd. She regarded him as a leaker, a manipulator and a narcissist. Imagine my surprise when, in 2006, Gillard shifted her left-wing factional numbers behind Rudd and made him leader of the Labor opposition, deposing Kim Beazley.

    This was a classic political compromise: supporting someone she despised in order to advance her own career, as Rudd’s deputy. Once the compromise no longer suited Gillard, she knifed Rudd, taking the prime ministership from him in June 2010. Since then Gillard has fed into the media case studies of Rudd’s bastardry – a retrospective confirmation of her 2005 character assessment.

    What was missing from Latham’s AFR piece was any recognition of the fact that he defeated Kim Beazley in the Labor leadership contest in December 2003 because Julia Gillard’s supporters backed Latham over Beazley.

    Around this time, the Lair of Liverpool thought very well of Julia Gillard. This is what he wrote about her in The Latham Diaries on 13 February 2004:

    I like Gillard because she has a go. She’s the opposite of white bread: feisty, irreverent, good sense of humour, the closest thing we have to charisma in Caucus. Not afraid of policy innovation but also steady and sensible. Look at the way she has walked into the MOB [manager of Opposition business] role, the first woman to handle this traditional machine man job in the House.

    So there you have it. When Julia Gillard supported Mark Latham she was a super sheila. But when Julia Gillard opposed Kevin Rudd she was attempting to impose a “con job on the Australian people” due to her advanced “political feminism”.

    Then in the AFR last Saturday Mark Latham had a go at the “cult of small business”. Wrote the Lair of Liverpool:

    Among the many paradoxes of Australian politics, none is more perplexing than the cult of small business. In no other section of society do we praise smallness, let alone construct religious-like shrines where we’re expected to worship the glory of teeny-weeny-sized enterprises.

    Self-evidently, if the businesses were any good they wouldn’t be small. They would be big monstrous things with massive levels of profit, employment and economic grunt. Isn’t this what the free market is supposed to produce: financial behemoths that can compete internationally and return whopping great dividends to their shareholders?

    Not a pack of blank-faced losers serving up kebabs and pizza slices in greasy food halls and shopping malls.

    What a dreadful snob. Mark Latham has never run a business – big or small. He has spent most of his working life on Commonwealth, State or local government payrolls and has never had the responsibility of making up a payroll. He now lives in retirement per courtesy of Australian taxpayers, some of whom own small businesses.

    The Lair of Liverpool seems unaware that many of today’s hugely successful big technology companies commenced as small businesses in the past three decades. Once having praised the aspirational class, the failed former Labor leader now mocks aspirational Australians running small businesses as “blank-faced losers” who serve “greasy food” in “shopping malls”.

    MWD supports Mark Latham’s column because he provides such good copy. Yet you have to wonder why Michael Stutchbury and the powers-that-be at the AFR publish such tosh. Especially since many small businesses, including café owners, buy newspapers for their customers to read.

    correspondence header caps

    Someone or other thinks it would be a you-beaut idea to write to Nancy’s (male) co-owner about something or other. And Hendo, being a courteous and well-brought up kind of guy, replies. Then, hey presto, the correspondence is published in MWD – much to the delight of its hundreds of thousands of readers.

    There are occasions, however, when Nancy’s (male) co-owner decides to write a polite note to someone or other – who, in turn, believes that a reply is in order. Publication in MWD invariably follows. There are, alas, some occasions where Hendo sends a polite missive but does not receive the courtesy of a reply. Nevertheless, publication of this one-sided correspondence still takes place. For the record and in the public interest, of course.

    As hundreds of thousands of avid readers are aware, The Guardian Australia’s deputy editor Katharine Murphy put out the following tweet on 6 June 2014 at 4.33 pm – when that issue of MWD was “hot off the press”. Here is Ms Murphy’s tweet: “Without in any way wanting to breach anyone’s human rights or free speech – why do people write emails to Gerard Henderson?” It’s a very good question. Thankfully, not everyone follows Katharine Murphy’s wise counsel.


    As indicated earlier, David Marr initiated an altercation with Gerard Henderson on the ABC Melbourne Southbank studio last Sunday – just before the Insiders program went to air. Your man Marr objected to Hendo’s column in The Weekend Australian last Saturday which criticised a comment made about Cardinal George Pell in David Marr’s The Prince.

    When the two men departed the Southbank studio shortly after 10 am last Sunday, Marr said that he would send Henderson evidence to support the claim he had made in the Green Room. For his part, Henderson said he looked forward to receiving the material and would respond in due course. Here we go:

    David Marr to Gerard Henderson – 1 June 2015

    Pell noticed nothing. He says so himself. Journalists without number have reported he noticed nothing while sharing a presbytery with paedophile Gerald Ridsdale. Paul Bongiorno reports he noticed nothing sharing another presbytery with the same abuser. And in The Prince I also write that Pell noticed nothing back in Ballarat in 1973. So, Gerard, how do you turn that into an accusation?

    On Sunday before Insiders, while I was giving you a rich and full account of what a weird shit I think you are, I told you I have defended Pell on this point for years. Your disbelief was total. You insisted I was attacking the man. You demanded proof.

    Well here I am, for instance, on The World Today on 23 September 2013: “When he was a young priest, Pell found himself sharing a presbytery in Ballarat with a priest called Father Gerald Ridsdale. Ridsdale turned out to be one of the worst paedophile priests that we know of in this country. I accept entirely that Pell was unaware of Ridsdale’s activities at the time that they shared that presbytery.”

    Basta. No more from me on this.

    Gerard Henderson to David Marr – 5 June 2015


    Thanks for your note of last Monday. Wonderful. It’s great to be reminded – the morning after the morning before – that you regard me as a “weird shit”.

    In the Insiders Green Room last Sunday, you literally exploded when I arrived at about 8.20 am. Perhaps you had been psyching yourself up from the time of your arrival almost an hour earlier. In any event, without even saying “Top of the morning Hendo”, you launched your attack the moment I rocked up.

    You called me a “lying shit” and a “f-cking shit” and more besides. To make your point, on three occasions you were yelling at me while jumping up and down. A bit like a boy on a pogo-stick. Except that you did not have a pogo-stick – and you are not a boy. An extraordinary performance, to be sure. It’s a pity you did not repeat the act when Insiders went to air at 9 am. David Marr jumping up and down in anger on the Insiders studio floor would have been such a hit.

    This is now the third occasion on which you have literally lost it and screamed with swear words aplenty before or during our occasional Insiders appearances.

    The first occasion occurred at Melbourne Airport when we met on the Saturday 17 August 2013 before the Insiders program the following morning. I documented this in my Media Watch Dog blog on 23 August 2013 (Issue 196) [You should put a link in here so that your avid readers will know what the matter is about – Ed]. On that occasion you went off your face after I commented that, in my view, George Pell was correct in not giving you an interview for your book The Prince. It seemed a comment of little moment but you literally lost it – at the Melbourne Airport taxi rank, no less.


    The second occasion occurred the following morning (18 August 2013) on Insiders in between the Newspapers segment and the resumption of the program. On this occasion, presenter Barrie Cassidy found exceptional interest in the ceiling lights while fellow guest George Megalogenis attempt to divert attention to the weather – or some such topic. This time you called me a “f_cking liar” over and over again. You became upset after I quoted on the Insiders program one of your references to Tony Abbott in your Quarterly Essay Political Animal. Again, I did not expect an outburst and was surprised by your super-sensitivity to criticism – especially in view of the fact that you are so critical of others. Fortunately you calmed down before the program resumed. And then there was last Sunday when, again, you went into agitated feline mode.

    Come to think of it, there was another such outburst in 2012 when you objected to a comment I made about your one-time mate, the late and unlamented Jim McNeil. This took place with a phone message followed by a phone conversation. I published the resultant correspondence in Media Watch Dog on 14 September 2012, Issue 154. [You should put a link to your correspondence in here. It followed your article in The Sydney Institute Quarterly, (January 2011, No 38 – you should also provide a link for this here so that your avid readers can follow the matter – Ed].


    And now for my response to your latest missive. When I arrived at the Southbank studio on Sunday you challenged the following paragraphs in my column in The Weekend Australian last Saturday:

    In his book The Prince, Guardian Australia journalist David Marr wrote that Pell (born 1941) “noticed nothing” when he shared accommodation at the East Ballarat parish in 1973 with [Gerald] Ridsdale. The implication is that he should have noticed something.

    So far Marr has said nothing about left-wing journalist and former priest Paul Bongiorno (born 1944), who also said he noticed nothing when he shared a presbytery with Ridsdale at the Warrnambool parish at around the same time. Bongiorno received an empathetic hearing from ABC RN Breakfast presenter Fran Kelly on May 21 when he said: “Ridsdale never came into the presbytery in Warrnambool and said ‘Guess how many boys I raped today?’ They hide it. It was certainly hidden from me.”

    Pell is entitled to the same understanding of his time in Ballarat as that which has been given to Bongiorno. But he won’t receive it since, unlike his one-time fellow priest, Pell is a social conservative who is the subject of a modern-day witch hunt.

    Your line that “he noticed nothing” is very similar to the line “I know nothing” – which, as you know, implies that the person in question did know something and is not telling the truth. Nowhere in The Prince did you write that you accepted entirely that Pell was unaware of Ridsdale’s activities in 1973 when they shared presbytery accommodation in East Ballarat.

    During the Green Room outburst last Sunday, you maintained that you had always said that, at East Ballarat, Pell was unaware of Ridsdale’s criminality. I made the point that you had not written this in either the 2013 or 2014 editions of The Prince. I also said that I was not aware that, subsequent to The Prince’s publication, you said that you accepted entirely that Pell had no knowledge of Ridsdale’s crimes in 1973. You said on Sunday that you had said this on “hundreds of occasions”.

    I replied that I would accept your assurance if you provided the evidence. You yelled that I should provide the evidence myself. I responded that I had not made, and was not making, any claim but simply asking for evidence. In the end, you said that you would provide the evidence. On Monday you sent me a quote from an interview which you did on The World Today on 23 September 2013.

    I accept that you did tell Peter Lloyd on The World Today in September 2013 that you accepted “entirely that Pell was unaware of Ridsdale’s activities at the time they shared that [East Ballarat] presbytery”.

    I also know that you did not make such an unequivocal statement in either the 2013 or 2014 editions of The Prince. So I stand by what I wrote in The Weekend Australian last Saturday. You implied in The Prince that George Pell should have noticed something about Ridsdale’s activities. You did not make this imputation in your interviews after the book’s publication – but the imputation is in the text, where it lives on well beyond the recall of an electronic media interview.

    Keep morale high. Here’s hoping we meet again at the Insiders’ Green Room before too long. It’s not yet “basta-time” – to use one of your favourite (Spanish) words.



    Dee Madigan, of the Creative Edge public relations outfit, has been on Sky News lately discussing George Pell and all that – without previously having demonstrated any expertise of how the Catholic Church operates. She was one of a small team of Pell critics lined up by Sky News presenters Paul Murray and Derryn Hinch to agree with each other in their attacks on Pell. This issue will be covered in next week’s MWD.

    Last Sunday, Ms Madigan sent out a text concerning Gerard Henderson’s comments on the Pell case. It led to the following exchanges:

    Gerard Henderson to Dee Madigan – 2 June 2015


    Some mistake, surely – as the saying goes.

    At 8.56 pm on Sunday 31 May you sent the following text:

    I wonder if Gerard Henderson watched #60mins and still thinks Pell is the victim of a witchhunt.

    When someone suggested that perhaps you might care to debate me concerning Cardinal Pell you sent out the following text at 3.58 pm on Monday 1 June:

    Why on earth would i want to do that. I don’t care what Gerard has to say. I am very interested in what Pell has to say.

    Now, maybe it’s a generational thing. Loreto Mandeville Hall graduates of my generation usually remembered what they said the previous day. Not so for those of other generations, apparently.

    On Sunday night you expressed interest in my view about Cardinal Pell. But on Monday afternoon you said that you had no interest in what I have to say about Cardinal Pell.

    All in less than 24 hours. I wonder what you might say tomorrow.

    Keep morale high.

    Gerard Henderson

    Dee Madigan to Gerard Henderson – 2 June 2015

    Hi Gerard

    I think that wondering if you still think Pell is a victim is quite different to wanting to debate you on the issue, simply because it wouldn’t achieve anything at all. You and I can think and say whatever we like, as we both have every right to do. What matters is what Pell says, and what Pell did. And how Pell could possibly have been at that 1982 meeting to move Ridsdale yet be completely unaware of the reason why.
    I have some empathy for your position of being a longtime defender Pell but I think there are very serious questions he needs to answer and I don’t think he has answered them satisfactorily in the past. Clearly, the Royal Commission doesn’t think so either or they would not have asked him to return.
    In regards to my very fantastic schooling, the nuns taught me to fight hard for social justice, and until Pell gives satisfactory answers to this Commission, justice will not have been served.


    Gerard Henderson to Dee Madigan – 2 June 2015


    You avoided the issue. On Sunday night you tweeted that you wondered what I thought. And on Monday afternoon you tweeted that you did not care what I thought. Even your accomplished spin cannot resolve this contradiction.

    On a more serious note, this is what you said on Paul Murray Live on 21 May 2015:

    Paul Murray: …I just believe that all of the people involved in these organisations – and there are some phenomenally important organisations, like the Salvos, who had to own up to terrible things in their past that have nothing to do with how they currently deal with things. But they had to front, they had to explain how they’ve learned, how they’ve changed. He [George Pell] has to do this as the most visible leader of the Australian Catholic Church.

    Dee Madigan: Not only the most visible leader but someone who, according to the testimony this week, was quite complicit in it. Frankly, I think he should be back and facing charges. And I say that as a Catholic. Probably not a very good one [laughs].

    Your statement that George Pell was “complicit” in child sexual abuse – presumably in the Ballarat diocese – is clearly defamatory. You also stated that Cardinal Pell should “face charges”. But did not say what for.

    The fact is that in the week leading up to your Paul Murray Live comments on 21 May 2015 no new evidence was brought forward at the Royal Commission with respect to Pell. You seemed unaware that Pell had already appeared before the Royal Commission (once in person, once via video-link) and had given sworn evidence to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry (which made no adverse findings against him).

    More recently, you seem unaware that the assertions made against Pell on 60 Minutes last Sunday were old – some were over a decade old.

    As anyone who has read the Royal Commission transcripts will be aware, Pell has consistently said that he is willing to co-operate with the Royal Commission in any way. He does not need your gratuitous advice on this.

    The fact is that, on 21 May, you and Paul Murray exhibited invincible ignorance. Paul Murray did not even understand that Pell could not suddenly front before the Royal Commission and demand a hearing. I understand that Mr Murray has no legal qualifications nor experience in the law or the public service. Put simply, he did not know what he was talking about.

    I’m not surprised that you and Mr Murray want to be able to make untested allegations against Pell without challenge. But it’s unprofessional journalism – and indicates a lack of intellectual courage.

    Your email of today continues your tradition of making allegations without evidence. You wrote:

    What matters is what Pell says, and what Pell did. And how Pell could possibly have been at that 1982 meeting to move Ridsdale yet be completely unaware of the reason why.

    The fact is that you have no idea what was discussed at the 1982 meeting. None whatsoever. Bishops Mulkearns had the responsibility of assigning priests within the Ballarat diocese – he did not need the approval of subordinate clergy like Pell. If you are aware of any evidence to the contrary you should produce it. You should not continue to make baseless allegations without a scintilla of evidence.

    As you should be aware, your use of the word “possibly” demonstrates just how weak your case is. For my part, I am happy to wait to hear what Cardinal Pell says under questioning before the Royal Commission concerning the Ballarat diocese.

    Best wishes

    Gerard Henderson

    Dee Madigan to Gerard Henderson – 2 June 2015

    Look Gerard, if Pell wants to charge me with defamation that’s really up to him, not you. And the fact the Royal Commission has asked him back shows that despite the fact he has given evidence before, they still think he has questions to answer. Surely there are others who are more in need of your defence than Pell.

    Gerard Henderson to Dee Madigan – 2 June 2015


    As you should know from your time in public relations, there are very good reasons why public figures do not take defamation writs. But this is no excuse for commentators to make wilfully false statements without evidence.

    As you would be aware if you read the correspondence, Cardinal Pell approached the Royal Commission and offered to give evidence for the third occasion. His offer was accepted. As the Royal Commission has stated, it has no power to summon a witness who lives overseas.

    A little fact-checking should never go amiss – even in PR land.

    Gerard Henderson

    Until next time – keep morale high.

    To #swf2015 this morning. Sunlit harbour, fabulous crowds radiating civility. And no Gerard Henderson ! It doesn’t get any better.

    – Mike Carlton, via Twitter, 1:48 PM – 21 May 2015

    Gerard Henderson’s friday self-harm update is here

    – Adam Brereton, via Twitter, May 15, 2015

    [Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog is] batshit mad.

    – Guy Rundle in Crikey, 14 May 2015:

    I’m in the sort of mood that if I saw Gerard Henderson in the street I’d hit him with his own umbrella

    – Ben Pobjie, via Twitter, 8 May 2015

    It’s a glorious day when Gerard Henderson has a go at you

    – Adam Gartrell, via Twitter, 8 May 2015

    Meeting of Gerard Henderson Appreciation Society tonight Sydney Opera House phone booth

    – Phillip Adams, via Twitter, 28 April 2015, 1.36 pm (after lunch).

    “Gerard’s condescension levels high on #insiders this morning”

    – Lenore Taylor, via Twitter, 22 February 2015

    “Gerard Henderson and David Marr are on #Insiders this week. Like a political Felix and Oscar.”

    – Mark Scott via Twitter 19 February 2015 at 1.10 pm

    “I once called Gerard Henderson `a complete f%^wit’. I deeply regret that. I was being much too harsh on f%^wits.”

    – Malcolm Farr via Twitter 14 February 2015 at 10:14 am

    Oh Gerard. You total clown.”

    – Jonathan (“Proudly the ABC’s Sneerer-in-Chief”) Green on Twitter, Friday 3 October 2014, 4.31 pm [Mr Green must be an obsessive avid reader to respond so soon. – Ed]

    “Good morning. All the gooder for being attacked (for thousandth time) by silly Gerard in the Oz”

    – Phillip Adams via Twitter, 27 September 2014

    “What troubles me most is that he [Gerard Henderson] shows such low journalistic standards, yet he is politically quite influential. He is often on Insiders. It’s hard to see why: he comes across as a crank.”

    – Kate Durham as told to Crikey, 16 September 2014

    “The unhinged but well spoken Gerard Henderson….”

    – Bob Ellis, Table Talk blog, 10 August 2014

    “Gerard Henderson and Nancy are awful human beings.”

    – Alexander White, Twitter, 25 July 2014

    “This is my regularly scheduled “Oh Gerard” tweet for every time he appears on #insiders”

    – Josh Taylor, senior journalist for ZDNet, Twitter, 20 July 2014

    “…that fu-kwitted Gerard “Gollum” Henderson….”

    – Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton, via Twitter, 12 July 2014

    “[Gerard Henderson is a] silly prick”

    – Mike (“I’ll pour the gin”) Carlton – tweeted Saturday 27 June 2014 at 4.15 pm, i.e. after lunch

    “If Gerard Henderson had run Beria’s public relations Stalin’s death would have been hidden for a year and Nikita [Khrushchev] and co would have been shot”

    – Laurie Ferguson via Twitter – 22 June 2014 [By-line: Mr Ferguson is a member of the House of Representatives who speaks in riddles.]

    “[Gerard Henderson] is the Eeyore of Australian public life”

    – Mike Seccombe in The [Boring] Saturday Paper – 21 June 2014

    “Without in any way wanting to breach anyone’s human rights or free speech – why do people write emails to Gerard Henderson?”

    – Katharine Murphy, Twitter, Friday 6 June 2014

    “[Gerard Henderson is] an unhinged prick”

    – Mike Carlton, Twitter, Thursday 12 June 2014

    “There’s no sense that Gerard Henderson has any literary credentials at all.”

    – Anonymous comment quoted, highlighted and presumably endorsed by Jason (“I’m a left-leaning luvvie”) Steger, The Age, 31 May 2014

    On boyfriend’s insistence, watching the notorious Gerard Henderson/@Kate_McClymont Lateline segment. GH: What an odd, angry gnome of a man.

    – Benjamin Law, via Twitter, Thursday 17 Apr 2014, 11:21 pm

    Can’t believe I just spent my Thursday evening with a video recap of Gerard Henderson. I’m a f-cking moron.

    – Benjamin Law, via Twitter, Thursday 17 Apr 2014, 11:23 pm

    “[Gerard Henderson is an] unhinged crank”

    – Mike Carlton, via Twitter, Saturday 29 March 2014, 4.34 pm

    Complete stranger comes up to me: that Gerard Henderson’s a xxxxxx.

    – Jonathan Green via Twitter, 8 February 2014